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nutritional products

OPERATOR

INDEPENDENT

business booster

Kath Hudson talks to some savvy operators who’ve bolstered their business throughout the recession by driving secondary revenue from nutritional product sales

I

ndependent operator Jason Matthews, owner of Ultimate Physiques gym in Castleford, Yorkshire, has a reputation in his

local area for the way he’s expanded his sideline in nutritional products and supplements – it pushes his annual turnover up, he says, by a six-figure sum. “This secondary source of income

has allowed me to keep the gym membership low but still invest in the club,” Matthews explains. Indeed, it has enabled him to grow his club during the recession: he’s taken out a lease on the adjacent building, extending the gym and adding new activities such as martial arts and running training. Matthews stocks a wide range of

products including fl apjacks, protein bars, rehydration drinks, carbohydrate drinks, protein drinks, meal replacements, cartons and numerous supplements from CNP, PhD, Richard Gaspari, Lonsdale and Viromax. “The club looks like a shop,” he says. “I truly believe that, if gyms got it right, there would be no need for supplement sales via retail outlets or the internet.” The business has been driven by customer demand, stocking products

requested by members. Matthews then discovered greater margins could be made if he went directly to the manufacturers, so asked other local gyms if they were interested and started supplying them too, allowing him to bulk buy. “My advice to gyms is not to mess about with the middle man, because people will go elsewhere if it’s a pound cheaper,” says Matthews, who uses price promises, special offers and deals of the week to keep people interested.

supply and demand

Trying the products yourself and having a good knowledge base is key. “You need to know the products. I only sell those I believe in and which taste nice,” says Matthews. “There’s also a degree of trial and error. I often get £500-worth of a product which I sell at a promotional price and ask the members if they want me to stock it or not. “I don’t push the products – I let

members come to me and then give them a consultation about what will best suit them and their lifestyle.” According to Hertfordshire-based

independent operator Michael Kershaw, who runs Fitness Connection in Hitchin, secondary spend on nutritional products has been a lifeline during the economic downturn. He explains: “We’ve been really surprised that, although the recession put pressure on membership, the volume of secondary spend has gone through the roof. It now accounts for around one-sixth of our turnover.” Fitness Connection made the decision to move away from

Recovery aids are proving popular, particularly with men, at the independent Fitness Connection gym in Hitchin, Hertfordshire

confectionery and chocolate to sell healthier food and drinks. It stocks a range of drinks, nutrition bars and fl apjacks from Multipower, as well as Lucozade products and supplements from Garnell and Maximuscle. Flapjacks have proved to be

immensely popular, as has Multipower’s Fitshake, but bottled water is also a big seller and allows a mark-up of six times – much more than other products. “We’re not pushy promoters, but

we’ve become more conscious about how important nutrition is, so we took some risks and held more stock, which has led to more sales,” says Kershaw.

énergie in Belfast currently stocks Ultrabody Detox, and plans to add the Inch Loss Shakes and Total Nutrition products

64 Read Health Club Management online healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital april 2010 © cybertrek 2010

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